Utterly Tone Deaf To Cord Cutting, Cable Contract Feuds And Blackouts Skyrocket

from the utterly-unsustainable dept

We’ve noted for years that as broadcasters and cable companies bicker over new programming contracts, already-annoyed customers are left in a lurch. Usually these feuds go something like this: a broadcaster demands a huge rate increase for the exact same content. The cable company balks, and the content is usually pulled out of the cable lineup. Customers aren’t given any sort of refund for this missing content, they’re just inundated with PR pitches from both sides trying to get them pissed at the other guy. Ultimately a new, confidential contract is struck, and the rate hikes are then passed on to the consumer.

In short, consumers are repeatedly punished with blackouts and petty PR bitching between companies incapable of responsibly signing new contracts, after which they get a lovely new price hike. It’s no wonder that 2016 was a record year for cord cutting.

Utterly oblivious to the self-immolation that comes from pissing off an already historically unsatisfied customer base, cable providers and broadcasters are already doubling down on this dysfunction in 2017. In just the last few weeks, countless pay TV customers have lost access to content they’re paying for, whether it’s Bonneville International blocking Dish customer access to a local NBC affiliate in large parts of Idaho, DirecTV users temporarily losing access to 33 Hearst Stations, or Frontier customers losing access to Sinclair Broadcasting stations after the broadcaster demanded a 200% price hike.

The American Television Alliance, a coalition of mostly cable companies, was quick to point out that 2017 is on record to see more of these types of feuds than ever before, as broadcasters continue to push for rate hikes that neither consumers nor cable companies are willing to pay for. It’s an utterly unsustainable business model to be sure, though the Alliance is quick to lay the lion’s share of the blame, quite correctly, at the feet of broadcasters:

“Broadcasters ambushed innocent consumers on New Year?s Day with a tidal wave of television blackouts,” said American Television Alliance national spokesman Trent Duffy. “Broadcast tycoons have brazenly and deliberately hijacked pay TV viewers once again, holding college football bowl games, the last weekend of the NFL?s regular season and network premiers for ransom in a naked ploy to extract more money from consumers.”

Of course, cable providers aren’t innocent little daisies either. While they may be a prisoner to broadcaster rates, they often impose rate hikes on service at every conceivable opportunity as well, whether it’s higher fees to rent a cable box or digital signal converter, fees to pay your bill in person or via the phone, hidden obnoxious fees used to falsely advertise a lower price, or broadband usage caps and overage fees designed to seek out their pound of flesh from another area of the consumer wallet.

Again, this simply isn’t sustainable. If the cable industry wants to seriously fight back against cord cutting and slimmer streaming alternatives, it needs to begin more seriously competing on channel bundle flexibility and price, something the sector as a whole appears to be incapable of realizing. As such, cord cutting and cord trimming (streamlining your cable package) are self-inflicted wounds from an industry so terrified of killing its precious legacy TV cash cow, it’s actually accelerating the demise of its traditional customer base by doubling down on pissing them off.

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Comments on “Utterly Tone Deaf To Cord Cutting, Cable Contract Feuds And Blackouts Skyrocket”

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67 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bye bye, free TV.

In order for over the air TV to go to pay TV, they would have to bring back analog. The only scrambling system for over the air TV is Scrambled Sync and And Video Inversion (SSAVI).

Unless Congress restores analog TV, I don’t see over the air TV going to a pay tv model.

Another problem would be signal pirates stealing the signal. Unlike with satellite and cable TV, catching someone stealing a signal from normal over the air TV is all but impossible.

That is why movie services that used scrambled over the air signals, like Star TV, back in the 1980s, went under. They could not catch the signal pirates getting the signal without paying for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I fully expect ISPs to go heavy against cord cutters in 2017

They are in big trouble. when my in-laws, who still pay for an AOL account, are talking about cord cutting they are really deep int he hole. I still have a satellite subscription purely because to recreate what I want and to do so while avoiding commercials, would be nearly as expensive. But that is very, very quickly going away. I easily see next year not having that subscription or severely cutting my plan.

While cable companies fight against broadcaster fee hikes, I also fully expect them to do whatever they can to fight against cord cutters now that they will have a much friendlier FCC.
I’m thinking everything from forcing modem/wifi rentals, lowering data caps if you do not have a cable/internet bundle to purposefully degrading video quality for cord cutters or even charging electricity style rates that raise during periods of what they feel are high demand.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: I fully expect ISPs to go heavy against cord cutters in 2017

Well, admittedly a VPN and using a custom DNS (OpenDNS even offers encryption to the requests) will make your traffic incognito to the ISP and it’s cheaper than other alternatives but you are right, they can still impose ‘advantages’ to bundle subscriber that are nothing more than penalties to those who go without the cord. Even if I was in the US I’d love to watch people get utterly screwed. Maybe then they’ll wake up to the importance of a functional FCC. I won’t hold my breath though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I fully expect ISPs to go heavy against cord cutters in 2017

That depends on the ISP. With some ISPs, other than cable, coming online now, I could see cable ISPs losing out to these other providers not beholden to the cable industry.

There is one ISP coming to my area soon that will have 75 megs down, and 15 up for $109 a month. Try getting a deal like that from any of the cable companies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: government-backed monopolies

Nope. We need government involved in specific regulation.

Getting them out will not solve any issues at all. This is not some libertarian paradise where when suddenly faced with no politicians at their back everyone will suddenly follow all of the ideas on supply and demand. The barrier to entry for a new ISP or cable provider is so astoundingly high that incredibly few will bother to do so nation wide. Even regionally it will be hard. What is to stop an ISP from saying to a new regional player “no you must bury your own line to get to this house.”?

Then you get to the local non-govt monopolies. I lived in a HOA that had a contract with a specific ISP for all service. They even blocked other options like DSL. If you wanted internet, the only option possible was this incredibly expensive and very slow option. No government politician involved there at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 government-backed monopolies

Through contracts like any normal HOA. But that does not matter at all. The proof is still there that our horrible system exists because of lax to no regulation. So a free market analogy of fixing the issues is completely wrong. We need significantly more regulation (with teeth) in telecom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 government-backed monopolies

But them not playing fair in the magical regulatory myth is better?

Yea, nice to see that you like other people with different opinions live in the same real world you do.

You do realize that free market is not the major player in this corrupt environment right now and that it is that regulation you are so keen on that has brought this about?

The argument that business will not play fair as evidence of needing a regulatory environment is specious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 government-backed monopolies

How is regulation a myth?

The free market still makes absolutely no sense with a utility market like the internet or cable. What incentive is there at all for a new player to come in?
You can reasonably argue for a regulatory free market for a commodity product. Those do tend to self regulate. But for a utility that requires incredibly expensive infrastructure and significantly benefits from a monopoly? Nope.

You forget that the regionally forced monopolies are a result of the government twiddling its thumbs and not doing anything right? That is where your free market has lead. The availability of multi-ISP markets are a direct result of the government stepping in and forcing competition over current lines.
Is there bad regulation? Of course. Just look at all of the dumb laws preventing cities from setting up their own ISP.

You are arguing to throw the house out with the bathwater because termites have gotten into the foundation. Why not fix the regulation and prevent it from political meddling?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 government-backed monopolies

“But them not playing fair in the magical regulatory myth is better?”

Regulation can be overhauled, improved, adjusted to fit the current market realities. There is absolutely a problem with how it’s been implemented and definitely a problem with how it’s enforced (exacerbated by the companies in question bribing and lobbying, by the way). But, something not working well does not mean you dismantle everything and let everyone do what they want. You fix it.

What’s the alternative once the free market fails to make them play fair? You people never state what the alternative to regulation is, other than some pie-in-the-sky version of how everyone will magically do so if nobody intervenes with the market to level the playing field.

“The argument that business will not play fair as evidence of needing a regulatory environment is specious.”

That’s a funny way of spelling “backed by many years of evidence that make the need for some type of regulation obvious”. There’s centuries of examples of what negative things companies will do in pursuit of profit if left unregulated, across every industry. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what will happen in the real world if regulation is dismantled and nothing is put in its place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 government-backed monopolies

“Regulation can be overhauled, improved, adjusted to fit the current market realities. “

It can be sure, but has it ever worked long term? Sure, you have an administration that may do some good stuff, but then it’s rapidly turned on it’s head by the next guy taking office. The government can be bought, as apparent by the shear volume of lobbyists pumping money into the politicians coffers rendering “regulations” useless.

Regulation/Regulatory bodies are a bat that is at the mercy of the whims of whatever administration is wielding it. In my opinion, if you really ant to fix it, get rid of regulation, and at the same time get rid of government granted monopolies. Let the market fight over it fairly, only the consumers will win.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 government-backed monopolies

“It can be sure, but has it ever worked long term?”
[/me looks at food industry – Yup.]

“Regulation/Regulatory bodies are a bat that is at the mercy of the whims of whatever administration is wielding it.”

Ok so what is your specific solution for the cable industry? Remember you are dealing with an oligopoly here with very high barriers to entry. So “free market” does not work here as it would in a commodity product. How does your specific system prevent the issues we have today?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 government-backed monopolies

I suggest you read up on the FDA a little before you declare victory. They are not as messed up as most, but they are still a mess.

I gave my solution. Get rid of government granted monopolies, and at the same time, get rid of regulation. Let the market compete fairly and the consumers will decide who gets to stay in business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 government-backed monopolies

You are still not answering any of the questions. so pelase answer the following:
1) What is your solution for the current cable/ISP industry? Please keep in mind that it is currently an oligopoly. (Your answer here of “Free Market” is an answer, but needs more consideration. So please answer the following follow-ups)
2) How does that solution prevent the issues we have today with reduced competition and effective regional monopolies?
3) How is your solution to (2) different from the current toothless system we have today?
4) How does your system encourage new entrants into the marketplace to become that competition?
5) How does your system punish collusion or the formation of a cartel?
6) How does your system ensure fair competition? What happens if someone does not compete fairly?
7) How does your system deal with infrastructure? Can a new entrant use current infrastructure? who owns the pipes? how will that be enforced?

morganwick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 government-backed monopolies

You keep repeating the same sentence over and over without answering why and how it answers his questions. You’re not dissuading him from the notion that you think simply getting the government out will magically cause competition to flourish, and you don’t seem to be engaging with him trying to tell you that maybe, just maybe, it’s not that simple, that without any government presence new entrants will still find it very difficult to compete with established players, or even, if the monopolies are outright broken up so everyone has a choice, that this sort of field is a natural monopoly that eventually coalesces into a single company controlling all the infrastructure without any government meddling whatsoever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 government-backed monopolies

2) How does that solution prevent the issues we have today with reduced competition and effective regional monopolies?

Remove the regional monopolies altogether. You disallow ownership of infrastructure. Simplified; Any company can attach their equipment to any available pole. Some say that will cause companies to not invest, but we all know that’s BS.

” How is your solution to (2) different from the current toothless system we have today?”

It’s completely different. You don’t allow the local city/state/municipalities to make under-handed deals with companies that give one sided monopolies to companies that make promises they never intend on keeping.

“How does your system encourage new entrants into the marketplace to become that competition? “

It encourages new entrants by removing the road blocks put in place by corrupt government bodies and legacy companies.

“How does your system punish collusion or the formation of a cartel? “

By allowing disruptive technologies to force competition, again, due to the removal of ownership of infrastructure and monopolies.

“How does your system ensure fair competition? What happens if someone does not compete fairly? “

Collusion is handled by the courts right? When I say remove the regulation, that doesn’t mean remove the court system, or the ability to sue for unfair business practices. I just mean remove the regulation granting these companies the ability to hold monopolies on infrastructure and services.

“How does your system deal with infrastructure? Can a new entrant use current infrastructure? who owns the pipes? how will that be enforced?”

The “pipes” should not be owned by companies. More leased. There would need to be a method in place of some sort to allow competing companies to place their own “pipes”, and if space is unavailable to “share” pipes, and the cost of using and putting down said pipes.

The key here is; Remove the ability of companies to out right “own” infrastructure. Take private roads for example. They can collect tolls from people that drive on their roads sure, but they cant discriminate between competing companies. Example; The owner of a road couldn’t say that only FEDX gets to use their road, no UPS allowed. Same difference with infrastructure.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 government-backed monopolies

No, your response doesn’t seem to answer any of them. How do you punish or even define collusion without regulation, or ensure fair competition? What incentives does your ‘solution’ offer to newcomers to the market to provide that competition? How do you determine who gets access to the infrastructure in order to offer their service and to what extent?

If you really think that your solution is a good one you should easily be able to address the individual questions they posed, not just restate what you’ve already said as if that’s all that’s needed, because it isn’t. You’ve stated what you think should happen, they asked you to explain how it would work under different conditions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 government-backed monopolies

I have addressed them above. The answer is simple. Infrastructure should not be allowed to be “owned”. Leased, rented, shared.. whatever, but not outright owned.

If you don’t have monopolies, then you don’t need regulatory bodies to regulate them. I didn’t say get rid of laws and the court system, just the monopolies and the regulatory bodies that regulate them. You would still need laws protecting the infrastructure, and defining how the cost and maintenance of the pipes is shared, but do you need a special regulatory body to do so?

It’s all for nothing anyway, It will never happen. Government and Politicians are corrupt. Both will do, like a virus, anything to protect themselves over their host, even if it means killing the host and eventually themselves because of it.

Great_Scott (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 government-backed monopolies

That’s not even the problem. There’s a reason that the free market can’t work here: communication cables are a natural monopoly – it doesn’t make sense for each provider to run their own.

As a result, Internet access is effectively a Utility and needs to be regulated by one. Well, either that or turn over all of the physical cable networks to the (state) government, but that has clear downsides.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: government-backed monopolies

I can just see a free for all in infrastructure projects, those involving road, pipe or cable networks. The question is just how many roads, pipes, poles and wires will people let cross their land and enter their houses? Remember that everyone requires permitting access for maintenance.

If you said that the infrastructure should be public property, with services allowed to use it, you might get somewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Usually these feuds go something like this: a broadcaster demands a huge rate increase for the exact same content. The cable company balks, and the content is usually pulled out of the cable lineup. Customers aren’t given any sort of refund for this missing content, they’re just inundated with PR pitches from both sides trying to get them pissed at the other guy. Ultimately a new, confidential contract is struck, and the rate hikes are then passed on to the consumer.”

And when that happens people who have paid and not getting what they pay for then turn to piracy and then broadcasters wonder why piracy is on the increase.

Anonymous Coward says:

One result of this could be people using streaming services based in Europe, which could eventually result in a version of the Commercial Felony Streming Act even more draconian than what Amy Klobuchar tried to get passed in 2010 and 2011.

There is one service right now, with servers in Holland, for $12/month (if you pay for 6 months) at a time, which gives you the eastern feed of all the major TV networks, a number of popular cable channels, as well as HBO and Showtime.

If this service should ever get a big following, as a result of the all these disputes, you can almost certainly expect a much broader version of Klobuchar’s bill to come up in Congress. Her original bill did not apply to those who viewed content, only those who distributed. If services like this one in Holland catch on, expect a version of the bill that does criminalize viewers as well.

Because this one service is based in Holland, the operators of the service are only subject to Dutch laws. United States laws do not apply to a website in Holland. This is why I do expect, sometime down the toad, a version of CFSA that criminalizes viewers, as well as those to send the streams, being that the United States has no jurisdiction over a web site based in Holland.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: maybe a popcorn futures investor?

Given the liar is using the same lawyer as before the tactic might be the same, ‘death by a thousand cuts’ where the goal isn’t to actually win in court(which is not going to happen with any judge that hasn’t recently taken a serious blow to the head for the reason you listed), but to bleed TD dry of funds through protracted legal fights because they said mean things about the liar.

Will add this to the list of ‘This is why we really need a strong federal anti-SLAPP law’, and hope the judge sees through the tantrum being thrown by the liar and dismisses the case quickly.

AC says:

Re: Re: When will Tech Dirt admit this?

I’m not trying to derail at all, but since TechDirt is ignoring the public coverage of this, I don’t have a relevant place to post the comment.

Idk who invented email, but I do know that Mike’s consistent approach to issues is to call people who disagree with him nasty names. At the very least, its nice to see someone fight back.

kallethen says:

Re: Re: Re: When will Tech Dirt admit this?

Honestly, I can’t say that there’s a lot of public coverage of this yet. After a quick search, there’s only been two articles I found. One was the one you provided a link to, and also there’s this from NY Magazine: http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/01/shiva-ayyadurai-files-defamation-lawsuit-against-techdirt.html

The NY Mag article does point out that TD has some pretty solid footing with the articles in question.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: When will Tech Dirt admit this?

Well, I might as well a few extra comments since you decided to bail when challenged:

“I’m not trying to derail at all, but since TechDirt is ignoring the public coverage of this, I don’t have a relevant place to post the comment. “

You could choose one of the stories he’s written on the subject. Or, a third party venue to air your grievances. But, you chose a story that has nothing to do with what you’re complaining about – which is the definition of derailing the thread.

“Idk who invented email”

Then what horse do you have in this race, so to speak? As far as you know, Mike is therefore completely correct and the person you’re defending is indeed lying. Why are you then rushing to attack Mike, especially when the answer to your question is so obvious with a moment’s thought (he’s not commenting on current legal action on the site that’s the subject of said legal action due to legal advice).

“Mike’s consistent approach to issues is to call people who disagree with him nasty names”

Citation needed. I rarely see him being anything but civil with the people he responds to. When he gets angry, it tends to be for a very good reason (say, when someone like you personally attacks and lies about him as evidenced here).

The consistent approach of the AC on this site, however, is to either lie about Mike personally (as evidenced by your comment) or to make nonsensical comments that are refuted by simple logic (your comments here again).

“At the very least, its nice to see someone fight back.”

If you read the stories here rather than rushing to troll, you might notice that he writes about legal threats against him on a regular basis. Yet, I’ve not seen many of those people win against him.

Anyway, if this site is not telling the truth, a successful lawsuit to expose the truth is welcome. You’ve picked a blatant liar to back on this one, however, and that’s not “nice” at all.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: When will Tech Dirt admit this?

Mike & TD get lawsuits all the time, I believe, especially from small minded con artists when he exposes them (IIRC, he usually wins base on facts). A hazard of exposing and criticising liars and frauds, sadly.

He doesn’t write about them generally while they’re in progress, unless there’s a need to rebut some false claims being made elsewhere. Is this the case here? If not, why do you demand the site write about it? If you’re going to claim they’re hiding something, I’m sure a list of ongoing legal battles can be produced, if you’d wish to explain what separates them from this one.

Personally, I’m wondering why the Hollywood Reporter is writing about the lawsuit at all. Other than a hugely tangential link based on the identity of the lawyer, it has nothing to do with their remit at all. Page clicks, I suppose.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: When will Tech Dirt admit this?

Someone finally decided to stand up to Mike’s personal attacks and insults

What personal attacks and/or insults are you referring to? I’ve read the articles concerning Ayyadurai and all I recall seeing is Ayyadurai’s claims being rebuffed with the truth.

 

Funny how not word about it here on Tech Dirt! Cat got your tongue, Mike?

Nothing funny or usual about it at all. If Mike has indeed been served with a lawsuit on this, then I’m sure he will want to have anything written about it be vetted by a lawyer or two and possibly, under the advice of his lawyers, not say anything at all about it.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Common Carrier

Just make *ALL* cell towers, power-poles, cable-lines, fiber-lines, data-hubs common carrier.
Mandate free access to all of these to any company.
xx% of all revenue be paid to every company using those resources goes into the maintenance and upgrade pool.
Companies would only be able to charge exactly what they advertise, if they advertise $35.00 a month, then that is all they can charge, period. That 35 would include all fees, charges, taxes, etc…
Also, all services provided can only be advertised at the “minimum” data-rate provided, not the lies currently used with their “speeds of *up to* 1Gbit/S”. Usage caps would be forbidden.
Companies accused of violating any of those terms will have their licenses to provide service revoked on the first offense.

Chuck says:

Inevitable

This was inevitable. The problem with asking DC to regulate Hollywood into submission is that DC is far too dependent on Hollywood – Nerd Prom, Campaign ads, Pro-war films – to do so. The only other entity gargantuan enough to kill Hollywood has always been, and will always be, themselves.

And now they’ll do it. Inside 2-3 years, I suspect, we’ll see the complete collapse of the likes of Comcast and Time Warner, including their owners, and all their little subsidiaries will fracture into a thousand bickering pieces. For a time, most will die while they compete TOO hard, until we wind up back where we are now – 3 or 4 giant ISPs dominating the entire nation.

It’s a cycle you see. It’s a cycle that EVERY unregulated industry goes through in EVERY capitalist economy. Consolidation, collapse, splintering and bankruptcies and a brief period of actual competition, then the cycle repeats. It used to be that strong men, the robber barons, would pause the cycle at consolidation for several decades through sheer will alone, but now that “extremely talented CEOs” get hired and fired like $300 million cattle, that will never happen.

So yes, under Trump, all the money will go to the top in a way that will make the 99% truly envious of the masses of the 1920’s, and when ISP and TV bills continue to rise, people will cut cords anyway because they simply can’t afford not to. Then the collapse will start, and the cycle will begin anew.

I just wish it wasn’t happening during a new season of Game of Thrones.

Mars says:

Do I really need TV?

Direct TV stopped carrying the local ABC (KOAT – Hearst Television) channel on Jan 1st. Most of the shows I watched were on ABC so I bought an antenna. Bye Bye Direct TV!

But I have not installed the antenna yet and this past week without ABC made me realize there is a lot of content available for streaming and I don’t need TV. Bye Bye KOAT!

Maybe I will install the antenna sometime in the spring when it warms up. But for now I am happy to join the ranks of the cord cutters and dump network TV too.

ECA (profile) says:

REALITY

you are 1 of the BIG 7 corps that Own 90% of all the broadcasting facilities around the world..
7 divided into the number of channel you could Probably get (300)
lets just say 50…
NOW you want to get all these channels ON to the customer SO you can get paid.
HOW do you do it?
SHIFT prices. that 1 channel that they ALWAYS want, you increase the price. and put it with a BUNCH of crappy channels.

THINKING EVERYONE WANTS/NEEDS ESPN they make a deal that EVERYONE GETS IT and EVERYONE PAYS FOR IT..(in most stats its 30-40% that WANT SPORTS).

You cant BUY any of the other channels with OUT buying the BIG BULL IN THE MIDDLE. Even if you DONT want the 1 MAJOR channel you cant get the others..

this is NOT competition.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: REALITY

Simple..

I have 1 channel that is popular and IO charge allot for it.
I have a bunch of channels I want to Bundle with it..
YOU want that Bundle, and NOT the big OVER priced one on top.
They wont let you have it, its ALL or nothing.

This is NOT competition.

THEN they do the SAME to the customer. you want 1-2 channels in a Bunch, you PAY for the BUNCH…and it ISNT cheaper.

FCC has been trying to break this up since 2000′.

Dave (profile) says:

Has nobody stopped to think that this might be exactly what broadcasters want?

In case y’all missed it, Hulu is primed to launch a live streaming TV service in the next few months. Hulu, of course, is OWNED BY THE BROADCASTERS, one of whom is Comcast-owned NBCU.

http://www.whatyoupayforsports.com/2016/05/hulu-endgame-new-cable/

Could it be that the networks might be setting themselves up to create the service that becomes cable TV? Would it be so silly to think that, in an environment where the FCC loses regulatory powers, the networks might try to push more customers to the TV service THEY own, rather than the one the cable companies own? And would it be silly to think that a company partially owned by Comcast could set the price for being zero-rated by Comcast, which would then force Netflix, Amazon, Google, and other video services — who suddenly have no recourse with the FCC — to pay the same rates, possibly recovering at least some of the lost costs of those expensive cable box rentals?

Broadcasters aren’t blind to these shifts — Disney is reminded constantly of how many customers ESPN is losing every month. I think this is all part of a broader plan to allow broadcasters to become cable TV themselves. Two years from now, we’re going to wonder why so many people didn’t see this coming.

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